What led to mid-air hijack scare on IndiGo flight

February 2nd, 2009 - 8:11 pm ICT by IANS  

New Delhi, Feb 2 (IANS) Security agencies Monday reconstructed the events that led to the mid-air hijack scare on board an IndiGo flight and created panic at the Delhi airport here.Delhi Police Monday formally arrested Jitender Kumar Mohala, 42, and a court sent him to jail for 14 days for his allegedly aggressive behaviour on board the flight from Goa to Delhi.

Mohala, a 42-year-old charted accountant from Dwarka sub-city here, and fellow passengers Harpreet Anand and Samir Uppal were detained Sunday evening for their allegedly aggressive actions on board the flight.

Mohala, son of a retired air force commodore, allegedly had a tiff with the flight crew over allotment of their seats. He was returning to Delhi after attending a conference in Goa.

The alleged behaviour forced the pilot of the IndiGo flight 6E44 to send a hijack alert, leading to a scare and panic at the Indira Gandhi International airport here. The plane made an emergency landing and was kept in isolation for two and a half hours.

“Mohala misbehaved with an airhostess over some issue and threatened her, saying that he was armed. He said he had two accomplices on the board and they would hijack the plane,” Additional Commissioner of Police (Operations) Ujjwal Mishra told IANS.

“He also said that he was official of the Director General of Civil Aviation (DGCA) and will inspect the plane.”

“The airhostess, who had earlier seen Mohala talking to Anand and Uppal, thought of them as his accomplices and immediately reported the matter to the pilot, who asked for a priority landing,” Mishra added.

Asked if Mohala manhandled the airhostess or was drunk, Mishra said: “It is not established that whether he was drunk or not. But he had complained of breathlessness and low blood pressure at the Goa airport. Mohala also sought the airline’s permission to have Red Bull energy drink,” Mishra said.

“He told airlines officials that after the energy drink he would be fine. He was allowed but there was no medical treatment given to him at the airport,” he added.

According to officials, the argument between Mohala and airhostess broke out over the seat.

“He changed his seat twice. And when the airhostess objected to his moves, an argument broke out between them. Interestingly, except for a few people seating next to Mohala, other passengers remained unaware of the tiff,” said a top airport official.

The pilot of the IndiGo flight, which was carrying 163 people and six crew members, sent an alert to Air Traffic Control (ATC) at Delhi while flying through the Jaipur airspace.

The flight landed at Delhi airport at 5.29 p.m. and was immediately taken to an isolated bay.

At least 30 commandos of the Central Industrial Security Force (CISF) formed a cordon around the aircraft while the elite National Security Guard (NSG) commandos took positions inside it. Delhi Police’s quick reaction teams formed the outermost cordon.

The passengers in the plane, however, were told about the situation only 30-40 minutes later when they asked why they were not being allowed to deboard.

A senior CISF official told IANS: “Our commandos surrounded the aircraft and took positions. The NSG team arrived 30 minutes later. In the meantime, the ATC and senior intelligence officials continued communication with the pilot in the cockpit.”

“Once everyone was satisfied that there was no hostage-like situation in the aircraft and everything is peaceful, the NSG commandos were given the go ahead to enter the aircraft,” said the official.

The official said the NSG men combed the aircraft minutely before the passengers were allowed to deboard in the batches of 15-20.

They were asked to identify their luggage right there and sniffer dogs also checked their baggage.

The passengers were frisked manually and were taken to the terminal inside where they were offered snacks and tea by the authorities.

While the three passengers were detained, Anand and Uppal were let off after intensive questioning. “The two passengers were detained in a precautionary measure. They did not know Mohala, so we let them go after questioning,” Mishra said.

Meanwhile, Mohala’s family refused to comment on Sunday’s events and the arrest.

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